The outcry in response to Hepburn Shire Council's abandoning of a protracted initiative appears to be growing.
A number of prominent residents are airing their grievances on council's ceasing of the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project. One passionate group has reacted with dismay. In an initial response, Daylesford Community Theatre president Gina Lyons declared her sadness.
"Tonight, the death knell was sounded for Daylesford Cinema," Ms Lyons said.
"The Daylesford Cinema committee is absolutely devastated by this decision."
"Council's decision on Tuesday evening came as a huge shock," the letter said.
"We were not expecting you to abandon the project because your public statements about the Rex have been positive."
The letter contained a number specific concerns, including financial worries.
"The council paid $6 million for a building worth $3 million; another $3 million was spent on it," it was outlined.
"If you sell for $3 million, you will be locking in a cash loss of $6 million with nothing to show for it."
Former councillor John Cottrell, who served on council from 2016 and 2020, is also critical of the decision.
"(To) sell as is is a drastic move," Mr Cottrell said.
"The history of the project is public and will be taken advantage of by any prospective purchaser."
"For over four years, shire staff and the community have been promised this centrally-located administrative and community complex," he said.
"Now, after the pain of having addressed all the structural building matters and so close to completion, the project is to be dumped."
The absence of future options for the cinema was also outlined in the theatre group's correspondence.
"There is no other building in Daylesford which lends itself to being used as a cinema," the letter said.
"That is why, after a huge community campaign to save the cinema in 2017, the council agreed to include it in the Rex redevelopment."
The letter went into a lack of consultation with affected parties.
"Council should have consulted with Daylesford Community Theatre and the broader community. I would refer you to Council's Community Engagement policy," it said.
"On any reading of the policy, the Hepburn Hub at the Rex meets the criteria of high strategic importance, high impact, and with high community sentiment."
Mr Cottrell is similarly conscious of the lack of consultation.
"For a council elected on the platform of community engagement, the motion was silent on community input," Mr Cottrell said.
Daylesford Community Theatre's letter closed with a request for a review.
"We are calling on council to revisit the decision to abandon the Hepburn Hub at the Rex and sell the building," is said.
If council does choose to reconsider its decision, Mr Cottrell suggests it looks at an "orderly exit" of selling the property and leasing it back.
"There are two options," Mr Cottrell said.
"(Firstly) to offer the property to market as is, with a long-term lease back to council on completion. This will provide an developer with the certainty of return.
"(Secondly) council completes the project, brings the property to full operation and then offers the property for sale with a long-term lease back to the council. The latter option provides council with full construction integrity and presents an attractive investment proposition."
Council has previously outlined its commitment to work with Daylesford Community Theatre to find a temporary or permanent base for the cinema.
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